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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Volume 2 by Howells

Beaton intervened with a question


His

wife disputed him on behalf of her sex, as women always do.

"No, Dolly," he persisted; "she'd better be home milking the cows and leading the horse to water."

Do you think she'd better be up till two in the morning at balls and going all day to receptions and luncheons?"

"Oh, guess it isn't a question of that, even if she weren't drawing. You knew them at home," he said to Beaton.

"Yes."

"I remember. Her mother said you suggested me. Well, the girl has some notion of it; there's no doubt about that. But--she's a woman. The trouble with these talented girls is that they're all woman. If they weren't, there wouldn't be much chance for the men, Beaton. But we've got Providence on our own side from the start. I'm able to watch all their inspirations with perfect composure. I know just how soon it's going to end in nervous breakdown. Somebody ought to marry them all and put them out of their misery."

"And what will you do with your students who are married already?" his wife said. She felt that she had let him go on long enough.

"Oh, they ought to get divorced."

"You ought to be ashamed to take their money if that's what you think of them."

"My dear, I have a wife to support."

style="text-align: justify;">Beaton intervened with a question. "Do you mean that Miss Leighton isn't standing it very well?"

"How do I know? She isn't the kind that bends; she's the kind that breaks."

After a little silence Mrs. Wetmore asked, "Won't you come home with us, Mr. Beaton?"

"Thank you; no. I have an engagement."

"I don't see why that should prevent you," said Wetmore. "But you always were a punctilious cuss. Well!"

Beaton lingered over his cigar; but no one else whom he knew came in, and he yielded to the threefold impulse of conscience, of curiosity, of inclination, in going to call at the Leightons'. He asked for the ladies, and the maid showed him into the parlor, where he found Mrs. Leighton and Miss Woodburn.

The widow met him with a welcome neatly marked by resentment; she meant him to feel that his not coming sooner had been noticed. Miss Woodburn bubbled and gurgled on, and did what she could to mitigate his punishment, but she did not feel authorized to stay it, till Mrs. Leighton, by studied avoidance of her daughter's name, obliged Beaton to ask for her. Then Miss Woodburn caught up her work, and said, "Ah'll go and tell her, Mrs. Leighton." At the top of the stairs she found Alma, and Alma tried to make it seem as if she had not been standing there. "Mah goodness, chald! there's the handsomest young man asking for you down there you evah saw. Alh told you' mothah Ah would come up fo' you."

"What--who is it?"

"Don't you know? But bo' could you? He's got the most beautiful eyes, and he wea's his hai' in a bang, and he talks English like it was something else, and his name's Mr. Beaton."


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